Emissary Spotlight: #DareToImagine Weapons of Mass Creation in New Mexico

October 8/2015

Stories

Arlene Goldbard interviews Israel F. Haros Lopez

“I’m a Chicano artist from Los Angeles,” Israel F. Haros Lopez—“Iz”—told me. “I’m a multimedia artist, I do visual work, I do music, I do mural work.” He’s currently an artist-in-residence at the Santa Fe Art Institute, focusing on this year’s theme of “Immigration/Emigration.” Iz is also an Emissary from the Future in the USDAC’s #DareToImagine National Action, taking place nationwide from 10-18 October. And he’s taking his role as a catalyst very seriously.

“My work is invested in talking to people, waking their artistic sensibilities, giving people the tools to recognize their own potential, to not feel like they don’t have enough skills—to know that art is always something in the people, you don’t have to be a professional artist to make art. It’s directly tied to politics. For me, a lot of work has be in conversation with immigration policies, with local policies, and in some ways about healing but also in finding direct local action and being creative.

“#DareToImagine is in direct alignment with how I work.

“It sparks the possibility of doing events on a regular basis. For a lot of us in Santa Fe, the intersection between art and politics is hard to find. There’s not a lot of people here engaged in that. This is an art community that is second to New York in art sales, which has a lot to do with tourism, with a very particular art aesthetic. So while there’s a lot of things to do with art, art that’s socially and politically inclined—spaces that work with that type of work—are fewer. So we’re trying to create more spaces. #DareToImagine is the perfect art form to be doing that. When we heard about #DareToImagine, we said let’s try to do as many events as possible to plant the seed, to spark the artistic movement. It definitely sparked people’s imagination, being free to create Imagination Stations.

“Whatever USDAC actions are coming up, we’ll branch out because we want to have Albuquerque involved and other parts of New Mexico. New Mexico needs so many things around education, teen pregnancy, drug use—this state needs things like #DareToImagine to be empowering, people-powered art initiatives that use creativity to change your local environment.”

israel

Iz has been in Santa Fe for six years. He grew up in Los Angeles, surrounded by the creations of the Chicano mural movement, then when to school at UC Berkeley. I asked if he was familiar with the mural work of SPARC, whose founder Judy Baca serves on the USDAC National Cabinet as Minister of Sites of Public Memory.

“Yeah,” Iz told me, “thinking about coming to my own artistic creativity, it took me a while to realize how much that influenced me. I was painting on these big boards, and I would get a bigger board and get a bigger board…. My art history classes were the neighborhood murals, so that was part of what created me as an artist. East L.A. has more murals condensed in one location than just about anyplace. That was my museum. I find myself making bigger and bigger work all the time because of Judy Baca’s work and other East L.A. street-scapers coming out of the ‘70s Chicano muralist movement.”

After USDAC Chief Instigator Adam Horowitz approached Iz about #DareToImagine, instead of creating a single Imagination Station, the artist set out to engage others in a whole chain of events. There’s a mural in Espanola, a predominantly Latino community north of Santa Fe where a significant proportion of the population lives below the poverty line, and where Moving Arts Espanola, a much-admired arts program for kids, is making a difference. Founder Roger Montoya, along with artists Scott Davis and Luis Pena, “found me a wall in Espanola that will be part of #DareToImagine. I do these coloring books, so it will be me coming in doing the original line work, and then the community filling it in.”

“The mural is called ‘Weapons of Mass Creation,’” Iz continued. “We are weapons of mass creation. The imagery will be based on Azteca and Mayan images but modernized. The bigger issue that they want to bring in is around reciprocity, looking at the earth as something that we’re connected to and that we have to respect.”

That’s just one element of Iz and his colleagues’ #DareToImagine plan. He’s making an Imagination Station “based off of this ice cream cart that’s a screen printer by Fe Montes’ and Joel Garcia’s work back in East L.A.” [There are some great images of the Politricked Public Art Cart here.] “This cart has a screen printer on it. It’s a two-way thing where we teach people how to stencil, then put those stencils on the screen printer. We’ll put these different people’s stencils on it, so whatever messages that they’re bringing can be included.”

Then there’s a second Imagination Station where “people come inside of this giant Olmeca head to imagine what Santa Fe could look like in the future they want.” Plus “someone out in Ribera, New Mexico, is taking the lead on doing #DareToImagine a world without borders, and setting up a watercolor station there. We’re also looking at Indigenous People’s Day, October 12th, and the theme of #DareToImagine Indigenous People’s Day every day, which would be an open-mic art happening. And we’ve got some youth in Santa Fe High School that are doing a whole #DareToImagine around hip-hop, doing rap and breakdancing and making a mural which will actually be on the school site, which is going to be pretty awesome.

“Also, Scott Davis has been designing a universal passport, connecting #DareToImagine to a world without borders, a world where we’re free to migrate back and forth. If you look back at our histories, we’re all migrating to something. We’re inviting people to migrate towards a bigger artistic vision. What does that look like with all the refugee crises that are going on through out the world, not just here in the U.S.-Mexico border, but in Europe and other parts of the world where war is creating all these refugees? How do we create a different reality of accepting all our differences and respecting other people’s boundaries and cultures? That’s something that we’re going to have for the second Saturday, October 17th.”

Olmec head

These are just a few of the New Mexico #DareToImagine events planned. Be sure to visit the #DareToImagine website on or after October 10th, when the Action launches, to learn more about the Imagination Stations of New Mexico and others across the country, and to post your own vision of a future you #DareToImagine!

Arlene Goldbard, Chief Policy Wonk